Thursday, October 8, 2015

Graceful as a Diving Bell

Small fry
hidden among the long eel grass
scouring nooks and crannies
to feast on brine shrimp
tiny fish

like children under a table at the ball
the elaborate courtships
of our elders
as they dance
bobbing curtsies
like Morticia and Gomez
to music only they can hear
Confidently exchanging roles as needed
in full partnership

Sea Dragons
Mystic knights of Poseidon
moving through ancient rites
Soul steeds bearing 
fallen sailors
the innocent
the fortunate
from His storm tossed fields
of elemental battle
across infamous rivers
from Styx to Lethe
delivered safely
to the Afterlife
by the troth of our shields!

Some crowned
Some speckled 
Kindred souls, Lifemates
who reestablish their bonds
every day
shifting through the dull colors of duty
to unique signatures of energy management 
the clever hues of social camouflage
we wear like plated armor 
to the brightly glowing moments
of pure contentment
Patiently present 
knowing each moment
is a gift with our Beloved
another chance
to waltz
in Peace

Finding our Balance
in shifting currents
Intuition and Logic
Flexibility and Stubbornness
is always a challenge
Wisdom tells us
when to cling for our lives
when to let go
Tails coiling and uncoiling
like sacred spirals
reminding us 
that we are always 
to the Divine
the Universe

We look both Forward
and Behind
bringing an emotional clarity 
so profound
you may find us 
hidden in your hippocampus
as a reminder to be 
Take chivalrous Responsibility
for your emotional behavior

Be Thou a Light
in Darkness
Be Thou a calm anchor
weathering storms
holding fast to coral branches
Remember to rest
caring for self
to the example of others
who wish to 
Be the Change
they wish to see in the World.

For only one in a thousand of us
may live to pass our Wisdom
swallowed whole
no teeth, no stomach
through three million years of tradition

Our fathers 
birthing us
to Survive
Releasing us
to experience
to learn
the Truth 
of our own unique Light
how best to nurture
and kindle bravely
a Beacon
on dark nights of the Soul
generous Understanding 
against the cavernous 
depths of the Unknown

There are 54 species of small marine fishes in the Genus Hippocampus, which comes from the Greek meaning "horse" and "sea monster". Their homes are the meadows of sea grasses, kelp forests, and coral reef canyons found in shallow seas around the world. Seahorses have long heads, bony segmented bodies with skin stretched over these bony plates, and are the only fish with a neck. Seahorses are also a fish without scales! Their head shape is so aerodynamic it allows them to move up on prey without disturbing the water, which gives them a high rate of success when hunting. Their upright position with these features do make them resemble their freedom loving land-bound cousins, but their closest relatives would be the pipefish and seadragons which together form the Family Syngnathidae. 

Seahorse tails, their only appendage, are prehensile. This is vital for gripping grasses as an anchor, in their courtship rituals as well as when tail-wrestling rivals. They use their tails in conjunction with a dorsal and pectoral fins located in the cheek area behind their eyes to swim. Seahorse are poor swimmers; bobbing about with an awkward grace and struggling to steer themselves in the desired direction. In fact the slowest moving fish we know of is a species of dwarf seahorse with a top speed of about 5 ft (1.5 m) per hour. 

Their narrow snouts fit into cracks and crevices where they can suck up plankton, tiny fish and crustaceans like Mysis Shrimp. An adult Seahorse grazes throughout the day,  Seahorse Fry (babies) eat an amazing 3000 pieces of food per day. No member of this Family Syngnathidae has teeth, or stomachs. Their snouts can expand to take in somewhat larger food. Because they process food so quickly, it is vitally important that they conserve their energy in between activities by anchoring somewhere and doing their best to blend in.  

Seahorses will release their tail grip for territorial defense, courtship/mating, and grazing. Their restful anchored state isn't laziness though, rather it is a balancing act of energy expenditure vs. physical needs. Crabs, some fish like tuna, penguins, stingrays and manta rays are all Seahorse predators, but weather which creates stronger water movement is still brings down more Seahorses each year than all these predators. Fighting against strong currents causes them to deplete all their energy to the point of lethal exhaustion. Man preys heavily on seahorses too as they are still used in Chinese herbal medicine. 

Seahorse have excellent eyesight with independently moving eyes, like chameleons; these can look forward and behind at the same time. Each species of Seahorse has a specific number of bony rings to their body, as well as spines on the head, a coronet, that varies from species to species. Depending on their habitat, they can grow and reabsorb these spiny fashion statements. All Seahorses are adept at camouflage, changing color as needed to blend in with their surroundings. This is their main defense, and they are extremely good at it. Their spiny projections help them to blend in with coral just as the Seadragon's leafy projections assist in camouflaging them in kelp. 

Seahorses stand out in the fish world for being monogamous during the breeding season. Some species have stronger mate bonds than others, but do not, as is commonly believed, mate for life. Before Seahorses mate, they court each other for several days. They will swim together, hold tails, cling to the same strand of sea grass, change their color, and float upward in a spiraling "dance". They will reenact this courtship behavior every day of the 2-4 weeks of gestation, renewing their bond. Science currently believes that this behavior synchronizes both their movements and reproductive states. When the female's eggs are ready, she must lay them within a matter of hours, or lose the whole brood by releasing them into the water.

She and her mate will engage in their courtship dance for up to six hours before the male inflates his ventral pouch with sea water to show it's empty ready state. As the female deposits the eggs with her ovipositor into his pouch, her body slims, and his swells as he receives 5- 2,500 eggs (depending on species) in about 6 seconds. Each clutch of eggs represents a tremendous amount of energy expended for both parents, and amounts to about a third of the Seahorse's body weight. 

A true reverse pregnancy, Seahorses are one of very few creatures in which the male carries the young to term. Depending on species, this could be a matter of days or weeks. Once released, Seahorse fry, like other fish, receive no further parental care and must learn to avoid predators and care for themselves to survive. Only about 1% of Seahorse fry reach adulthood.

The Seahorse is an intricate unique Nature Teacher. They often appear as a Messenger when we need a change in perspective as well as a clearer understanding of our own emotional state, or intuition. Their tough armor like exterior makes them a protective Teacher that encourages us to be both patient and observant in all things. Observation and awareness of one's surrounding are key to survival, says Seahorse. They are excellent at helping us learn the fine line between tenacious persistence and dangerously inflexible stubbornness. 

Their skill with camouflage is indicative of lessons on when to blend in and when to stand out in the crowd. We must learn to anchor ourselves well to a firm foundation in order to weather Life's turbulent storms. Some find their foundation in their home life/family, others in work, still more in their artistic outlets, religion, or addiction. "Do you know what are you building your life upon?", asks this Teacher. "You should."

Balanced Seahorse people tend towards chivalric kindness, seeking to help and protect those they view as less able to do so for themselves. Kind or unkind, they tend to build a code of personal ethics. Seahorse with its penchant for stillness, promotes introspective activities. Introspection brings perspective, enlightenment, balance, patience, tends to ones inner being and spiritual health, and coupled with Honesty, allows one to recognize and deal with ones Shadow Self. What drives you? What fears have you hidden away from your conscience mind? Are your choices being motivated from a place of clarity or fear?

"You cannot pour from an empty cup" warns this Teacher. It is vital that those called by Seahorse choose wisely when expending energy, and sometimes this means choosing our own needs over those of another. We must take the time not only for rest and food, but also for whatever activities renew and revitalize us. For some, this means taking time out of each day to retreat to a place of silence and solitude, or even taking a nap. Scheduling regular times spent with friends or family works for others. Without a firm foundation to anchor to, without taking the time for our own rest and renewal, we will work ourselves to lethal exhaustion or be swept away by the next storm we encounter in Life.  

This Teacher loves to help new Fathers as they take on the challenge of being a parent, although they might appear as a guide or messenger to anyone of any gender or stage of life. Sometimes though, Seahorse will show up to point out a need for change from provider to nurturer, or vice versa. We humans tend to believe that some tasks "belong" to one gender or the other. To the Seahorse, all tasks are made easier by sharing. Mothers can be the providers for their family. Dads can be cuddly caregiver for their kids. It isn't really important who does which tasks in a given relationship. What is important is that each be willing to share the tasks involved n parenting or relationship building. Seahorse teaches us too that taking a little time each day to demonstrate your commitment should be a joy rather than a chore. 

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